June 11, 2010
The Aspen Saturday Market is in a category with the Mill Street fountain and Thursday night concerts on Fanny Hill – not tourist draws exactly, but institutions that elevate local life. The event has grown to include pottery, popcorn, pinot and pastries, but the best aspect remains the farmers – their fresh produce, the opportunity for growers and consumers to interact. When the Saturday Market opens June 19, it will occupy another block of downtown Aspen, the 500 block of East Hyman. Don’t expect too much in the early weeks (do load up on the cherries) but peaches, tomatoes, melons and peppers – infinitely better than you’ll find in the supermarkets – are just weeks away. Start salivating.
You’ve got to admire Wendy Mitchell’s spunk. With little more than a love of food and a background in the restaurant business, Mitchell decided to become a cheese-maker. During a year in Scotland she showed up at the door of one cheese operation after another, volunteering her help and seeking knowledge. Now Mitchell’s Basalt-based Avalanche Cheese Company, founded last year, makes irresistible cheeses – cheddar, blue, a garlic-and-basil chvre spread – from milk produced by her herd of Delta County goats. Avalanche products are available in most local grocery stores, and this year, Mitchell has added the Aspen Saturday Market to her route.
Food is huge in pop culture these days. Can you even count the food-oriented shows on cable? Among the reasons is the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, which, 27 years ago, basically introduced the concept of a festival that fostered interaction between chefs, winemakers, purveyors and eaters. The format has been copied in numerous locations, but the Classic remains the top-shelf event. This year’s festival, Friday through Sunday, June 18-20, features the usual menu of celeb chefs, including Mario Batali, Jacques Ppin, Rick Bayless and David Chang. On the wine side, former Aspenite Richard Betts is in charge of the reserve tastings. And as always, the Classic spotlights the food stars of tomorrow, introducing its 10 Best New Chefs.